Hello + First Board (wooden)

Hi everybody, 

French guy living in India, learning to surf at 47 years young (paragliding started to feel scary), and building my first board, chambered wood.

I have been lurking here for 6 years (!), learned most of what i know about shaping and fins, etc, in this forum. I have read all the great threads (I think, some twice or trice even). I know most of the regular posters here like old friends :slight_smile:

I started building a wooden groveler, 5’4, 22" wide and 2.75" thick. Comes at almost 38 liters. I call it the Fat Board or Pocket Longboard :)  I’m near a small wave spot, getting medium big only a few days a year. 

The lightest wood I could find is something they call Red Cedar here, but I think it’s a sort of Mahogany. Not super light but not too heavy, the board looks like it’ll be about 16 pounds. About 2 pounds of which are reinforcements at spots where I will experiment with various types of foils. I have only the weekends to work on boards so I decided that my first one would have several uses, easy take-off groveler for small days and experimental foils board. I’ll try to find some real Red Cedar for the next one.

I have been using a CNC to cut the slices, 13 of them, and chambering. To not spend too much time on the machine and to allow for some shaping margin I have machined them quite roughly.

I started gluing the slices together, on weekends and I hope to be finished in a few weeks.

Ok now figuring out how to post pics…

Gorgeous wood, tools, and work!

Some of the other hollow wood people should be along shortly.

I’d agree that wood  grain appears to be very similar to mahogany, but with a touch more orange than most mahogany I have seen/worked with, not that I have huge amount of experience with it .


I’ve not built chambered boards, only hollow. I get 5 planks from a 2x4 and need 4 2x4s and a 1x12 to do a board with a lot of bookmatched panels. But plenty left over.  If I had a nice band saw with a thin kerf blade and a precision fence, I could get 6 planks from one 2x4 which could yield a more beautiful board, in my opinion, but I’ve no intention on building more of them.

  I’m only designing and building fins from here on out, and I find this is way too labor intensive and time consuming as well, but with no access to CNC and zero interest in current commercial fin offerings, I need to make what I want to try / experiment with, mainly deeper much higher aspect ratio fins with narrower bases moved further back on the board.


Finding C grade or better clear WesternRed Cedar in Southern California that I can browse pick and choose, was a huge issue on every board I’ve built here.  My last board I paid over 50$ for one 10’ 2x4 from an outlet in Salinas, nearly an 8 hour drive away, and used leftover cedar from other boards for the rest, but for the rail’s 1x10, Wood bought in Santa Rosa, or Washington State more than a decade prior.  I found some light cedar  locally for the rails, but pretty heavily knotted, and was laying my templates on the stock in the lumberyard to see if I could work around the knots on any individual piece. Was there for hours. 

 I’ve used beautiful clear redwood 1x12 acquired locally, for the rails before, and it was nice to work with, but heavier than cedar, and does not smell nearly as nice, but being a bit denser does not ding as deeply.  I almost had to use redwood again for my rails of latest build but eventually found one piece of cedar whose knots were positioned just so I could avoid them.

Thanks jrandy !

wrcsixeight, I had read your HWS build thread, the one with wings, awesome work. Your Red Cedar is much nicer than what I am using right now. I have an address for some Red Cedar imported from Canada about 3hrs trip from here. I will have to check it for the next board.

Still undecided on the build method for the next one. The HWS method seemed daunting for a first build, especially the bottom contours. Also, unlike with wood, I have no experience with fiberglass. But somehow I find the HWS superior to chambered solid wood, can be made lighter, uses less wood and beautiful bookmatching can be a plus. And honestly it is a more classy approach. Chambering feels like cheating, the advantage being that it doesn’t require glassing and the deck and bottom are stronger. But the vertical pillars are the weak spots because of the direction of the grain, and are sure to split if the board is not vented.

I guess I have time to think about it and convince myself to go for a HWS build.

About fins I also tend toward higher aspect ratio and less sweep but it’s not coming from my surfing experience, because I’ll be a grom until I die, but from reading about hydrodynamics and toying with some fluid softwares. Anyway since I’m still learning I think I might as well learn with my own fins even if they’re unconventional. It seems that people who make fins that depart from the traditional dolphin, super raked shape are somewhat going in the same direction: higher aspect ratio, deeper, less rake, thicker foils, and sometimes tubercules. So may be there something going on here. 

Here are some of my first experiments, just wood and epoxy, no glass, for quick prototyping. The single fin is just flooded with super glue then wiped off. It really works to waterproof the wood when just wanting to make a fin in a couple of hours. When I’ll feel it’s worth spending money I’ll make some in G10.


Wow! WAO.


I’m in awe of your fins.  especially those curved rail fins.

 Even if they were molded from plastic I’d be impressed with the highly unconventional shape and design, but to be made from wood too…


I’d love to give them a go.  My Proboxes accepts fcs1 fins…My mailing address is…:0


With no CNC machine I take way too many hours to make just one wood and fiberglass fin, and generally stop working on it before it is truly finished, mostly cosmetics, as I want to know if it works before going farther, and when they do work I tend to forget to complete them and just use them instead, or start making cardboard templates of the next version.  If my latest fin works as hoped, then any flat sided  rail fin I have made previous, is back to only 50% finished.


What kind of wood, and do you think the fcs tabs are strong enough?  I’ve only made one large fin out of KOA wood, and not glassed it, just used teak oil,  But it broke during a top turn where a large piece of kelp also was. I think the tab broke allowed the fin to rock back and then with all the load on the back half of the fin it just let go. I have made smaller sidebites from both Bloodwood and purpleheart with fcs1 tabs, flat sides, and used only  teak oil to finish, but they were lacking something, performance wise.

  I rebuilt the Koa fin, but then glassed it, and that was for a singlefin box .I drifted away from larger center fin with smaller side bites back to larger rail fins with smaller center in that board, and that board has been mostly shelved since I finished its larger version a few years back.


I’ve never even considered making a turbucle fin out of wood.  I’ve modified MrMik’s 3d printed broken Gwhale fins to fit Probox, FCS2 and Futures center boxes with pultruded carbon bars from finbase into finbody .  Have not yet finished the futures version.  I found with the 50/50 foil I did not like them as rail fins, most of the wave, but sometimes on a better bigger wave, the flow and speed felt wonderful, but othertimes felt way too dull and drifty and imprecise.   Blaming the 50/50 foil could be wrong. I made them ~4.5 inches deep and perhaps they need to be deeper.  I had briefly tried 50/50 foils as conventional rail fins before and gotten that same imprecise feeling though.  So many variables…

I’ve kept  the cut down to size turbucle fins  as center fins, with my sharkier cedar rail fins that employ the super high aspect, thicker foil, and narrow tip.  I think their low drag, happily stalled and forgiving nature,  make them great in this location, as long as they are moved back on the tail and one takes steps to prevent their leash catching it on take off.  MrMik made a more extreme version of the Gwhale fin, which I did not like in the Longboard, compared to the Gwhale, but I have turned it into a  fairly deep center fin for my 6’11" hws, and just completed moving its tab way forward, to move the fin way back.  Not yet tried it.  I tried it before the second modification/tab movement, with sharky rail fins, 3/4 inches farther forward  un center box and it was way too loose/pivoty.


The FCS2 0.5 GW turbucle fin was described as very fast very loose and very weird, by my one test pilot, riding a board he ‘hated’. I was thinking with all the load on the rear portion of the FCS2 box, it might break the fcs2 box, and he claimed to not care if that occurred to that hated board. But it lasted 3 sessions with instructions to try and break it turning.  I’m eagerly awaiting more feedback from when he puts it in a board he actually likes, and tries it in good waves and gets used to the new feeling and perhaps pushes the boundaries.

Do your  curved turbucled rail fins have 50/50 foil or lesser on the inside, like 80/20.  I can’t tell by the picture, I only can see they are not flat inside.

I’ve not played with toe in angles, yet. but Me thinks the accepted toe in formulae are dialed in for flat sided rail fins, and other foils need something different, more or less toe in I know not, but I suspect less.  Cant seemingly get anyone still active here, to talk fin design in depth, especially unconventional fin design, and most of the local surfers i run into surfing who experiment with different fins, are simply too local and too cool  and dismissive to discuss this topic in any depth, and seem to be of an opposite mindset, experimenting with lower aspect ratio/ more rake/exaggerated tips.


Seems  google Chrome is not allowing me to upload any more photos. I get the little clock for a quarter second after clicking upload, then it disappears and nothing happens.

Thanks ! And again your board is gorgeous, the work looks flawless.

The single and the curved fins are made of Padauk, very stiff. The tabs are the weak point, especially because of the screw digging in the wood and going through the epoxy. But for me they last a long time if i’m careful to dry them and put a drop of super glue in the screw mark to keep it sealed. But my semi-pro surf budy can crack a tab in one session, especially since he says that he can push these fins harder than standard fins (probably due to the thickness and tubercles). With a big probox tab and a bit of glass on the tab they’d last forever with a bit of care. Anyway these are just quick to make, a set in half a day and cost nothing because I use off cuts that are lying around. As I said I hope to make some in G10 or carbon fiber when I’m sure of what I am doing. The good thing with a cnc is that you can afford to make any crazy fin ideas that passes through your head for almost nothing and in a short time. 

Yes the side fins are about 80/20, I design my foils in XFLR5 starting from an existing foil that as good characteristics and try to improve it a bit, especially increase the stalling angle and soften the stalling curve, and/or increase the lift/drag ratio at low Rn. For the curved fins I started with a E836 foil, which is already made for use in water but at higher speeds/longer chord/higher Reynolds number (these all mean the same thing in a way).

The zero-lift angle (hence lowest drag) for a standard flat-sided industry foil, say 6mm thick is between 2 and 3 degrees, at all speeds and all along the fin. For cambered foils the zero-lift angle will vary depending on the speed and place along the fin (chord lenght). Not by much for a thin 6 mm fin. But for thicker foils the difference increase as well, as much as 2 degrees for a 11mm thick foil. (for example zero lift at 2 deg toe-in at low speed but 4 deg at full speed). So a choice has to be made between paddling ease or max speed down the line. 

Ok, I try to not think too much about surf design during week days, if not I’d be at it 24/7 because i’m obssesed and I can’t concentrate on my real job :slight_smile:

Here’s some drawings of the board in progress for criticism of the outline and rocker etc. (stage fright)

Intent is speed, max grovelling power and max wave count for the grompa. :slight_smile:

5"4 by 22’, 2.75 thick, 38 liters. Nose rocker is 3’ 1/4, tail is 1.5’

There’s a slight entry concave and light vee in the tail.


If you have not tried https://finfoil.io please do. It has the ability to read files made from XFLR5 and well as importing other files and images.

It also works with fins from https://www.blendingcurves.com

Both authors are members here and offer much of their work gratis for the community to use.


I’ve  always had difficulty relating to boards under 6 foot long since I exceeded 135Lbs in my early teens.  I rode a lot of 60’s logs in any conditions that called for grovelling at a young age, and many times in conditions in which I could have rode a shortboard, but just decided I could have way more fun on the log.  Whenever I have again tried boards in the sub 5’10" range since,  there never felt like enough railline for me, and the whole wider shorter flatter trend of HPSB boards of the last 15 years or so also never worked for me the few times i tried such a board of adequate volume, and I make boards for nobody but me, so can be selfish and narrow in my desires and preferences.

I do like that your shape there is little confusion at a quick passing glance which is the nose and which is the tail, as can sometimes happen with boards in that size range or egg like shapes in general.  


When I was drawing out my latest HWS, which is far from flawless, I was not feeling it, until I added first one wing, then two, as when drawn on a flat table, it could be easy to mistake nose for tail, as I do not like pointy noses, but I do like rounded pintails.  I had many previous boards of similar shape, more a hybrid with double bump, using swallow, squash, and round pintails, and the round pintail was my favorite all arounder.  I was also considering Asymmetric, but with no experience and noone to really bounce Ideas off of or ask questions I just basically expanded the dimensions of my first HWS, for my accumulating years.


I’ve never worked with Padauk, but learned to be wary of some exotic oily hardwoods.  I was doing an unrelated to surfing woodworking project with some PauFerro. The belt sander’s output was aimed at my belly for a small portion of it, and I broke out in a bad rash there that took over a month to clear up.


You have some solid wood along the rail pieces, I get that you are going to experiment with a foil so the unchambered part there makes perfect sense, but I’m wondering about the solid portions mid rail,  unless you have Popeye like forearms and tend to crush boards there when duck diving.  



excellent work

Welcome to the club WAO. I am also a wood board builder. If you haven’t yet check out Huck’s wood board forum. The link is http://forums.delphiforums.com/surfersover50/start

Those fins are straight awesome! I like the superglue trick, do you do any wood turning? I know turners use superglue for a finish all the time. There are also the heat reactive resins like cactus juice that wood turners use for stabalizing and hardening, but I’ve never used it and dont know how waterproof it is. If you don’t mind sharing your process I would love to see a detailed explaination of the creation of the fins.

As for your board, I am by no means a professional shaper and can give very little input to your shape, but as far as the wood working it looks like you have the chamber process down. Just curious, what programs did you use to design and cut it out? Again I would love to see a detailed explaination of your process. I recently aquired a smallish cnc router and have been trying to get a board designed and cut, like you have done. I’ve only made a few generic fins with my cnc. If you make the jump to hollow wood boards I think it is easier overall and definitely has less waste. There used to be a huge wealth of knowledge online, but for the most part all the forums have been abandoned. There are still guides, but they aren’t always the greatest. There are still plenty people here on sways that can help. I am by no means an expert, but I have been woodworking as a hobby/building wood boards for almost 10 years and my wife runs a small woodshop. I can usually offer help in the wood working department. For instance, I would not use cedar for a board unless you are going to glass it. While it is light and easy to work with, it is also soft and dings/dents very easily. The dents can be steamed out, but that is another headache and can soften wood glue. As many will say balsa and paulownia are the woods of choice, but can be hard to aquire and expensive.  The wood you used looks like some Philipine mahogany I have, although again on the orange/red side of the spectrum. It could be a trick of the picture lighting with the orange/red tiles in the background.

Someone else mentioned the solid chambers and I was curious about them also. At first I thought they were left solid for fin placement, but they don’t look correctly spaced for fins. Are they spaced for extra support for foot placement? Also was there reasoning behind the second to the center boards being two pieces? Is it just for material saving or ease of cutting?

Again I think that everything you’ve done here is awesome and I hope you keep posting!

Thanks Unclegrumpy !

Hi Jrandy, yes I know finfoil and blending curves, I probably dicovered them on this forum. Very cool ressources. 

Yes Padauk can be bad. I worked with it for many years and never had a problem, including in 2010 when I was covered head to toes in red dust for a few days during a project. But last summer I worked with it a lot, while sweating profusely because of the heat, and the dust gave me serious burns in the hollow of the arms and on the eye lids. Took a month or so to heal. Now I am hypersensitive to this wood in these areas only. I wear long sleeves when working with it and put some anti allergy cream (Antihistamine) on the areas that are sensitised and I have no problem. Padauk is still one of my favorite woods to use.

“I’m wondering about the solid portions mid rail,  unless you have Popeye like forearms and tend to crush boards there when duck diving.” LOL yes I crush boards all the time, nobody want to shake my hand at my surf spot anymore. No actually these solid parts are also for pluging some foils. :slight_smile:

Hi Phillip, thanks for the compliment. I have read your 6’4" thread, nice work. I like the logo in your profile pic, big fan of Futurama :slight_smile:  

I saw a few bottles of Titebond III in the background, you used it for the board ? If so I’m reassured because it is what I use for mine and was wondering if I should use marine glue instead. I know it is waterproof but wasn’t sure if it’s suitable for actual marine application.

No i never turned wood, didn’t know wood turners also used super glue for finishing. Good to know !

The fins and the board I designed and cut with Blender and Blender Cam which are free. Blender CAM is tricky though and not much help on the internet about it. Giving a shot at fusion 360 now which is free for non commercial use, also has CAM. Trying Rhino as well, probably my favorite, thinking of buying it. What would you like to know about the process to create the fins ? For detailled explainations I would probably have to start a dedicated thread. Which CAD and CAM have you been using ? I would love to see the fins you machined as well !

Yes I will probably try a HWS method for the next board, and will have to learn glassing.

Yes some Asian Mahogany, sometime it can be really red, when freshly cut.

The five solid chambers at the tail are for quads and thrusters plugs, also leash plug. I had a look at the Baked and Sweet Potato and they have the fins really close to the rails, with the front quads toed-in and the back quads straight. I copied this, it doesn’t look right ? The other central solid part is for a foil mast later on and the ones in the middle of the rails also for some foil experiments. 

After reading this forum for years I am glad to finally post and thankful for the interest and advice, thanks everybody !

Here’s the 5 center slices being glued. The center one is protuting at the tail so I can shape the spine of the vee.

Oh and I forgot, the second to center slices are in two parts because I was running short of wood for one, so I decided to make the other one in two parts as well for visual symetry of the joints. 

Here’s the vent plug. With a fat thumbscrew to comfortably adjust the board’s pressure mid-barrel at Cape Fear. Countersunk for the safety of humans and marine life alike.

Keep up the stoke. Your build is coming along very nicely.

I’m glad at least someone got the futurama reference on that board. I had originally made it for myself so I didn’t mind putting a goofy logo onto it, but someone offered me more than a fair price for it so I sold it. No regrets though, it didn’t surf that well and had a small leak. The guy who bought it wanted to hang it on a wall.

I actually don’t use titebond 3 for my surfboards. I make butcher block style cutting boards for family and friends, the titebond 3 is for them. Generally on my surfboards I use titebond 2 or one of the pu glues, gorilla or the titebond version. I think the pu glues are a more standard woodworking glue in europe than the states. Here titebond is the easiest and most widely available. My glue choice is usually based on how tight I can get the joints. Tight fitting joints get the titebond, looser/gappier joints get the pu glue because it will foam and fill in a little bit. I also don’t worry about how waterproof they are because I glass all of my boards.

As for the cnc, I mostly use finfoil for fins, boardcad for boards, and then aspire for the cam/slight modifications of parts. I really need to learn another type of cad/cam. I used autodesk inventor back in the day, so I think fusion would be an easy transition. I just need more time off from my normal job. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the 2 fins I’ve cut. One was a high aspect version of a normal longboard fin. It works extremely well, real pivoty in a longboard. The second fin was a test of Mr. Mik’s tubercle fin, basically a plywood version of WRC68’s fin.

Keep up the dope work.

PS you might need to coat that vent with some superglue.


So here’s where it’s at. Roughly sprayed poly on the inside, because some water will get in eventually. Re-reading wrcsixheight build thread convinced me that I need to add a second vent to be able to circulate air to dry the inside just in case. I was going to be lazy about it but I’m sure I would regret it. So I will make another, smaller, vent plug and put the big one at the nose and the small one at the tail. Almost done with the assembly, I just have to glue the rail slices and it is closed. 

By Poseidon it is a fat board ! It looks wide enough already and there is 3 more inches to go ! I had checked the dimensions of the Potatoes and added an inche in width for the same lenght, and a quarter in thickness I think. May be it should be called the Squashed Potato or the Potato Roadkill. I know it’s good to be conservative on a first build but I wanted to push the groveller concept a bit more just for fun. Also this board will hopefully spend quite some time above the water with the foils so I wanted to be able to paddle/take off on small waves. 

Phillip I saw you asked about machining the second side of fins without having them flex. Here’s what I do, I add small tabs, modelled in the cad program, that I sand off after. They don’t need to be big, the leading edge one is 10 by 5 mm and the trailling edge one is only 1mm thick. I did the trailling edge one very thin because the foil is concave on the other side and I didn’t want to mess too much with it when sanding the tab off. (I use hard wood, I wouldn’t try 1mm tabs with plywood). That should work for you, anyway it is standard practice for 2 sided machining.

That place is much too clean for a wood shop .